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Excursions, workshops and digital classroom resources for students of all levels

Creative Leadership in Learning

An innovative Opera House program that embeds creativity into schools

The Creative Leadership in Learning Program is an immersive, and deep way to engage your school community with Sydney Opera House.

The program works by engaging the full creative capabilities of the Sydney Opera House to activate deeper learning for students and to support your teachers to teach any subject through creativity.

What is Creative Leadership in Learning?

“Creative Leadership in Learning has revolutionised teaching and learning at Casula High School...the potential benefits to the teachers and students are limitless.​”

Andrew Walsh, Teacher, Casula High School

The CLIL Program

The Creative Leadership in Learning program takes schools on a three year journey of discovery, growth and learning.

This flexible program has three main streams of activity:

  1. A two-term artist residency in your school resulting in a performance outcome.
  2. Teacher Professional Development Workshops to develop confidence in teaching through creativity.
  3. Student excursions to Sydney Opera House to engage with performances, workshops, talks or tours.

All of the artists are practicing creatives, theatre makers and artistic directors with backgrounds in education and creative learning.

After three years schools will:

  • Have up to 60% of teachers participate in immersive training programs exploring creative learning practices
  • Be experienced at integrating Sydney Opera House programs into their creative learning practices
  • Have attended numerous performances and events at the Sydney Opera House
  • Perform in Amplified Festival at the Sydney Opera House – the annual showcase of work from participating schools 

Year 1  Start your journey

Teachers and Principal

  • Participating teachers and the Principal attend an Ignition Day in term 1 to design the focus question for Creative Leadership in Learning (CLIL) in the school for the next three years. 
  • 10 full-day immersive teacher professional learning (TPL) sessions are conducted for a small cohort of teachers. These sessions explore how to engage creativity in the classroom and how artistic processes can inform teaching. 


  • In term 2 and 3, one class and an artist spend one day a week creating an original and ambitious art work based on a performance they see together at the Opera House. 
  • Year one concludes with a performance at school and a debrief on all activity aligning to the focus question. 
  Term 1 Term 2 Term 3 Term 4
Students  Ignition Day (Early March) Artist in school x10 days (one day each week) + Students will attend a performance at the Opera House to kick start their project Artist in school x 10 days (one day each week) Debrief with class
Teachers  Planning between artist and teacher + TPL sessions 1 and 2 TPL sessions 3, 4, 5, 6 TPL sessions 7, 8, 9, 10 Debrief with staff and CLIL team - forward planning for next year
Performance     Performance of class project at school  

Year 2 Explore and expand

Teachers and Principals

  • In Term 1 the teacher and artist meet and plan. 
  • A new cohort of teachers begins the 10 professional learning sessions. 
  • In year 2 it becomes important for the full school to get up to speed with the CLIL project. Often an all-staff twilight session or SDD is required to give staff a taste of what is being explored in the teacher professional learning (TPL) and the class projects. 


  • A new class is chosen to create an original art work with a Sydney Opera House artist. 
  • The year concludes with a performance in school and an in-depth debrief reflecting on the focus question.
  Term 1 Term 2 Term 3 Term 4
Students   Artist in school x10 days (one day each week) + Students will attend a performance at the Opera House to kick start their project Artist in school x10 days (one day each week) Debrief with class
Teachers Planning between new artist and new teacher + TPL sessions 1, 2 for new cohort of teachers All staff workshops on SDD or twilight + TPL sessions 3, 4, 5, 6 TPL sessions 7, 8, 9, 10 Debrief with staff and CLIL team - forward planning for next year
Principal School executive and CLIL team planning   Performance of class project at school Discuss best means for embedding creativity across the school

Year 3 Culture shifting

Teachers and Principal

  • Year 3 starts with a new cohort of teachers and a new artist and new class project. 
  • Teachers from the first two years are now in a position to mentor new teachers having had up to two years experience using the creative strategies learnt in the teacher professional learning (TPL) and developing their own. 
  • The CLIL team work closely with the executive to embed the strategies and processes across the school. Following this the school and the CLIL team evaluate the three years, celebrating the achievements and discussing any plans for the future.


  • The third year of CLIL culminates in a performance at the Amplified Festival at the Sydney Opera House for friends, families and the broader education sector. 
  • Amplified is a professionally produced festival by the Sydney Opera House technicians and producers.
  Term 1 Term 2 Term 3 Term 4
Students   Artist in school x10 days (one day each week) + Students will attend a performance at the Opera House to kick start their project Artist in school x10 days (one day each week) Debrief with class
Teachers Planning between new artist and new teacher + TPL sessions 1, 2 for new cohort of teachers All staff workshops on SDD or twilight + TPL sessions 3, 4, 5, 6 + possible mentor pods-teacher led TPL TPL sessions 7, 8, 9, 10 + possible mentor pods-teacher led TPL Possible mentor pods-teacher led TPL
Principal School executive and CLIL team planning - set mentoring schedule   Performance of class project at Sydney Opera House Amplified Festival Debrief and celebration with staff and CLIL team - possible planning for new projects together

“This is a program you can use to activate whole school change and make creativity the focus of what you do​”

Michael Saxon, Principal, Liverpool Boys High School

Amplified Festival

Amplified is the two-day festival when schools present their major projects from the Creative Leadership in Learning Program. Watch and celebrate how teaching creativity turns up the volume on learning, amplifying the connection between education and art.

Amplified Festival 2019

The performances, foyer activation, and film you are about to watch are the result of two terms of work between Sydney Opera House artists, a class of students and their teachers.

Each school group attended a performance at the Sydney Opera House and used it as the stimulus to create the original work you are about to watch. Each of these works also explores relevant curriculum subjects.

“I will never forget this experience and the profoundly positive impact it had upon my students.​”

Katrina Faros, Teacher, Chipping Norton Public School

Stream, Read, Listen

Discover more about previous Creative Leadership in Learning experiences...

Meet the team

Tamara Harrison

Tamara Harrison Head of Children, Families and Creative Learning

Tamara Harrison is the Head of Children, Families and Creative Learning. She has extensive national and international experience in the arts and culture sector across a range of performance genres.

She has held a number of senior positions at The School of Life Australia, Australia Council for the Arts, the Australian Centre for the Moving Image and Malthouse Theatre, across programming, sector and audience development, partnerships and communications. 

Frank Newman

Frank Newman Creative Learning Specialist

Frank is the Creative Learning Specialist for the Sydney Opera House. From 2007-2012 Frank was Terrapin Puppet Theatre's Artistic Director and during this time, won a Helpmann Award for Best Production for Young Audiences. He has a Bachelor of Creative Arts, Majoring in Theatre Technology, from Wollongong University.

Frank’s shows have played in festivals in Australia and around the world. Frank is studying for his Doctorate at the Queensland University of Technology researching creativity, site specific practice, creative learning and the Sydney Opera House. 

Alice Osborne

Alice Osborne  Artist

Alice Osborne is a theatre maker who works collaboratively as a puppeteer, director, performer and movement artist. She worked as Puppetry and Movement Director on The Splinter by Hilary Bell for Sydney Theatre Company,  Monkey Baa's adaptation of Jackie French's Diary of a Wombat, Ruby’s Wish for MakeBeLive, and Justine Clarke’s Look! Look! It’s a Gobbledygook. Alice's television credits as puppeteer include Five Minutes More, Me & My Monsters, Farscape Mini Series and The Upside Down Show.

She has a Bachelor of Arts (Communication - Theatre/Media) from Charles Sturt University, Bathurst. Most recently, Alice worked as Puppetry Director for Monkey Baa’s adaptation of Possum Magic in 2019 and on a new stage adaptation of Edward the Emu.

Curly Fernandez

Curly Fernandez Artist

Curly Fernandez (he/him) is an Australian conceptual artist with an interest in audience participatory processes. He is of Indian and Portuguese ancestry. His work combines disruptive art with social experiments that are incendiary, experiential, and provocative explorations of humanity.

He leads the Leftovers Collective which has performed for the City of Sydney, Mardi Gras, The Powerhouse Museum, The Museum of Contemporary Art and Sydney Opera House.

Curly is a specialist creator in hybrid drama techniques, weaving literacy, leadership, and visual arts for young people to unleash creativity through Artistic Anarchy.

Notably, he has worked with young people who have refugee status, English as a second language and also Indigenous youth in Central Desert NT, giving them confidence and freedom regardless of societal rules and norms. Curly has collaborated with other cultural youth institutes such as Australian Theatre for Young People, Poetry In Action, The Arts Unit, Bell Shakespeare and The Multicultural Playwrights Program. 

Kate Murphy headshot

Kate Murphy Artist

Kate is an actor, theatre maker, youth arts facilitator and voice over artist who has worked for theatre companies across Australia, creating original theatre pieces with her students and embedding a passion for theatre in young people. 

Shehas voiced characters for movies and TV, including Sesame Street and as lead voice actor for the Shopkins web-series and feature films. She has also Voice Directed multiple series for Australian TV. 

Kate has a unique and varied skill set, with a Bachelor of Theatre Arts, an improvisation scholarship at The Second City in Chicago and teaching theatre at University of Southern Queensland.

Luke Escombe

Luke Escombe Artist

Luke Escombe is an award-winning songwriter, musician, comedian and speaker who works in health, education, entertainment and the arts. He is the creator of Chronic, a musical comedy show about living with chronic illness, and The Vegetable Plot, a nationally touring children's band signed to ABC Kids.

Luke received his early musical education in the UK, where his father’s job in the rock and roll industry enabled him to see hundreds of legendary performances by artists like Freddie Mercury, Prince and Bruce Springsteen while he was just a boy.

Sarah Vyne-Vassallo

Sarah-Vyne Vassallo Artist

Sarah-Vyne is a recognised leader in Australia for the professionalisation of inclusive arts practice and has a lived experience of invisible disability. She is a director, choreographer, writer and arts consultant with a career spanning 20 years in the Arts and Entertainment industry. Her practice intersects with dance, theatre, screen, visual arts, music and design, engaging some of the most prestigious arts companies in Australia.

Sarah-Vyne is currently in creative development for Murmurations screenplay Bowerbirds, directing a regional arts learning program Ripple Effect in partnership with The Arts Centre Cootamundra. The company’s first major work premiered in 2017 and was programmed in the Joan Main Season in 2018.

Sophie Kelly

Sophie Kelly Artist

Sophie is a director, actor and theatre-maker. As a director, she has worked for Bell Shakespeare, NIDA, ATYP and Newtown High School of the Performing Arts. As an actor and theatre-maker, Sophie’s performance credits include Tattoo and Motortown (Griffin); The Waiting Room (STC Rough Drafts); Titus: The Ultimate Murder Ballad Musical (Darlinghurst Theatre); Hamlet and Measure for Measure (Complete Works Theatre Company) and her acclaimed solo-show Miriam and the Monkfish (The Old Fitz, Melb Comedy Festival, Melb Fringe Festival.) Sophie is a graduate of the VCA (Acting) and the University of Sydney Law School (LLB) and was a recipient of the 2002 Pratt Foundation Award. 


Michelle Robin Anderson Artist

Michelle is a theatre-maker whose career has gravitated towards puppetry, creative facilitation, acting and devised performance. Since completing her training in Contemporary Performance at WAAPA/SOCA she has worked as a performer for a diverse range of companies around Australia and overseas, including Terrapin Puppet Theatre, Melbourne Theatre Company, ERTH Visual & Physical Theatre, Vivid Sydney, Sydney Festival and Sydney Theatre Company. As an educator, Michelle also works with Sydney Theatre Company as a Teaching Artist helping teachers to use drama to improve children’s literacy and she also co-facilitates a drama ensemble for adults living with a disability and conducts artistic residencies in schools that explore visual and performing arts. She is currently completing her Master of Teaching (primary) and still learning how to surf.

Get in touch

To find out more about Creative Leadership in Learning for your school, please contact us:


Phone: +61 2 9250 7770

Fax: +61 02 9241 4276

Frequently Asked Questions

How does my school sign up?

Send an email to and we will contact you to arrange a meeting to talk about the program and how it works in more detail. The Principal must attend this initial meeting as the Principal’s belief and investment in the program is crucial to its success. 

What schools do you work with?

Creative Leadership in Learning is delivered in both Primary or Secondary schools. We work with public schools, Catholic schools and independent schools.  Many of the schools we work with are either classified Low SES or have a significant percentage of students from Low SES families. In 2020, we’ve worked with 8 schools.

What does the program fee cover?

The fee covers delivery costs of the program to the school - 10 teacher professional learning sessions (capped at 15 participants); 20 days for artist to run the class project, project materials, tickets to the show for the participating class and a $2000 contribution for the production costs of the end of year show. 

The school may need to cover additional staff to cover teachers undertaking the professional learning sessions as well as any travel costs to and from the Opera House.

What evidence do you have that Creative Leadership in Learning is effective and delivers what it states?

Between 2018-2020 the Australia Council for the Arts has undertaken a major research project into Creative Leadership in Learning (CLIL). This research demonstrates that schools find real value in the relationship and that CLIL has positive impacts on students, teachers, schools and their broader community. Read more about the research here 

Why is Creative Leadership in Learning three years?

We believe that to have a genuine impact on school culture the program needs three years at a minimum to achieve its objectives – but all of the schools that have completed the three year program have continued to work with the Opera House.  The contract is renegotiated each year. This gives everyone the freedom to pull out or negotiate changes.

When you say the Creative Leadership in Learning program is partly bespoke or co-created, what do you mean? 

In the third year of the program some schools know what they want and they work closely with the Creative Leadership in Learning team to achieve it. This provides a really fertile, strong relationship to try new ideas unique to the school and their needs. Examples of this are the development of a Course in Creativity, bespoke large scale projects such as the Liverpool Boys High School Takeover or the Lansvale Public School Dream Maker’s Kiosk which has been presented to over 14,000 people at the Opera House. 

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